By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian entrepreneur yesterday said she is planning to "give back in a great way" to her homeland after her flourishing scalp-care product line penetrated 200 Target stores in the US.
Sherrel Fountain-Sampson, founder of Canviiy, a US-based cosmetic provider, told Tribune Business that the inspiration to start her own firm came after spending 13-plus years in corporate marketing in the beauty industry.
“I was already thinking about starting my own brand because I worked for small group's boutique and personal care brands," she said. "I really just fell in love with the process, and fell in love with just the building stage.
"So I made a decision to myself and said: 'Do I go and work for a multinational company like an Estee Lauder or L’Oreal, or do I take all of my knowledge now that I have learnt and build something for myself?”
Recalling her years growing up in The Bahamas, Ms Fountain-Sampson said: “I was raised by my grandparents in Nassau. They were both leaders in the community and the church. More importantly they bestowed family values such as respect, integrity, work ethic, responsibility and spirituality that I keep near and dear to my heart.
"I lived in Golden Gates number two, where I attended Carlton E. Francis and S.C. McPherson. We were also church members of Transfiguration Baptist Church. I have fond memories of my grandfather attending sports day at the stadium to watch my track and field events, and my grandmother preparing a large feast for our family beach days.”
She added: “I decided building something for myself is something I wanted to do. But the real challenge was figuring out what was going to be that ideal product. One day, coming from the hairdresser, my scalp was on fire, and so that really encouraged me to find out what was in the marketplace.
"I noticed there were a lot of different scalp oils and products that were heavy and greasy. They were oily, and contained toxic ingredients such as parabens or urea or triclosan, so from there I decided that if we as a team decided to take the time to build something special we could come up with a game changing anti-itch, scalp soothing product.
"So that was the initial charge, and that took 14 months in which we partnered with an organic chemist to develop our first formulation. That’s how Canviiy was born. The product is based on phenomenal ingredients, so you are going to have a healthy treatment as it is based in aloe vera.
"It has witch-hazel, lavender Manuka honey, and in addition to that you can expect that the product is non-greasy and non-runny, so it penetrates the scalp extremely well. But the special sauce that we have is the fact that it is extremely long lasting, so for three to four days customers can expect no itching sensation whatsoever.”
Asked whether she always saw herself as an entrepreneur, Ms Fountain-Sampson said: “I was inspired by many of my family members, especially my mother, Carolyn Johnson-Fountain. She’s always been a scholar from her adolescent days at St. Augustine’s College to graduating with honours from Florida A&M University in accounting.
"My grandfather, Basil Johnson, dedicated a lifetime of service at The Tribune, and I was influenced by my aunts and uncles that are successful in their own right. Therefore, I always knew there was a path to success with the foundation of education and hard work.
"I envisioned myself being a business leader, because from a child I was surrounded by strong, confident, intelligent women who served as examples. I envisioned myself being a business leader because I come from a lineage of strong, confident, intelligent women who served as examples.”
Ms Fountain-Sampson said her family in The Bahamas has always been proud of her success, adding: “It warms my heart to feel the pride that my family exudes from the success of Canviiy. My ultimate goal in life is to return to The Bahamas to help drive economic development for everyday citizens.
"I have a plethora of strategies and concepts that would span beyond the tourism industry to aid in driving sustainable economic growth and prosperity for families across the nation. While I am proud of Canviiy’s achievements, my hope is to leave a legacy that uplifts and inspires others to lead a life rooted in purpose.”
Since Canviiy launched on November 2015, its reach has only grown. “It has been amazing to start in farmer’s markets, and today we now have a growing domestic and international customer base from Australia to Canada, Germany, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom," Ms Fountain-Sampson said.
Canviiy products have featured in more than 200 Target stores across the US since February 2020. “We have distribution in four airport stores, so we have distribution in the aviation sector as well,"
she added. Canviiy has also partnered with the Moffitt Cancer Centre, which means it can work “hand in hand” with leading physicians involved in cancer treatment.
“One thing I wanted to share for myself is that a lot of people ask what the motivating drive behind what we do is, and truthfully the drive for me is wanting to bring back economic development to The Bahamas," said Ms Fountain-Sampson.
"So once Canviiy builds up enough influence and capital gains where I can come back, and give back in a great way, that’s really what my long-term intentions are and what I intend to make happen.”